Lagos assembly screens commissioner-nominees

Gbeleyi Abayomi

The Lagos State House of Assembly through its ad-hoc committee on screening of commissioner and special adviser nominees on Thursday began the screening of commissioners’ nominees.

The committee has however only successfully screened eight nominees out of the 25 man list.

The exercise, which is expected to continue on Friday, according to the chairman of the committee, Hon. Rotimi Abiru, will end on Saturday on things being equal.

The already screened nominees are: Mr. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Princess Aderemi Adebowale, and former Secretary to Lagos State Government Mr. Tunji Bello, Ms Adenike Ajayi-Bembe, Dr. Wale Ahmed, Prof. Akinola Abayomi and The Nation Editor Mr. Gbenga Omotoso.
Save for Ahmed, who is the state’s Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC) and former member of the House of Assembly, who was asked to take a bow as a former lawmaker, the remaining nominees were subjected to rigorous questioning by the committee members.

At the end of the day’s exercise, the chairman of the committee Hon. Abiru said he was satisfied with the performance of the nominees, stressing that they are knowledgeable people.

However, hon Abiru said that the committee would report back to the House for confirmation of the nominees or otherwise.

Answering questions during the screening, one of the nominees, Bello said the menace of refuse in the state was because the past administration abandoned a working refuse disposal system under the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and introduced a system that could not cope with the volume of refuse generated.

He said LAWMA personnel had been trained, adding that they specialized in various areas of refuse management before they were taken out of the system. The situation, he said, created a vacuum that the operatives of the newly introduced model could not cope with.

Bello said the solution to the situation might already be on the way with the introduction of sorting of refuse at point of generation and separating same into refuse bags as been introduced by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The former SSG, who said he worked as the speechwriter of the late Chief MKO Abiola, is a journalist, lawyer and former commissioner for the environment.
He advised that the state must intensify efforts on waste management and conversion.

“There are a few areas you can set up dumpsite in Lagos State because the state is below the sea level. You cannot set up a dump site in Lagos Island, except in places like Agege, Abule-Egba and others.

“On flooding in Lagos, we have nine main drainages in the state, and while six are developed, three are not developed and flooding is always when there are blockages in the flow of flood to the Lagoon through these drainages.

“The Lagos Mainland drainage system is the oldest and it has about six divisions. The tertiary drainages and channels must link up with primary channels,” he said.

This was corroborated by the chairman of the committee, who said everybody was concerned about the environment.

On his own part, Abiru advised Bello to impress it on the government that the state could not afford not to improve on the environment.

Omotoso who was the last person to be screened said the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law (FIO) was not working.

According to him, when the media write to ask for information; there is always no response from the authorities concerned.

“If you go to the Code of Conduct Bureau for assets declaration information of government officials, they will not give you. If you want to explore the option of going to court to press for access to the required information, that is a long process,” Omotoso said.

On managing perception of Lagos State Government, Omotoso said it is the duty of everybody.

He added that it can be done through training of information officers, mobilizing the members of the public and dissemination of government’s actions and policies to all the nook and crannies of the state.

Omotoso said, more importantly, everybody must put up a proper behavior, especially people in positions of authority for others to emulate.
He said though technology has a major role to play in dissemination of information on the government’s policies and activities to the people and enhancing the people’s perception of the government, the problem of lack of electricity, especially in the rural areas limits its capacity.

“We can manage perception by constant engagement through technology and deploying same for the purpose, but the problem of power supply in the rural areas limits its capacity,” Omotoso said.

He advocated marrying the traditional mode of information dissemination with a modern system for more effective result.

Answering another question on coping with life outside his known comfort zone of managing a news medium, Omotoso said journalism, like politics, is all about service.

“Politics is a call to service; it is an honour and it will be a seamless movement for me,” the editor said.

He pointed out that many political giants, such as Chief Segun Osoba and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, are former editors.

Abiru hailed Omotoso, who was the eighth and the last person to be screened yesterday.

He said: “It has been a long process, you have been here since about 10a.m. and this is almost 5.00p.m. I commend your patience. You are cool and calm despite the pressure,” Abiru said.

Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Assistant Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was the first nominee to be screened, promised to bring her wealth of experience as a lawyer of 30 years to bear, on her office, if she is given the opportunity.

The politician, who said she has been speaking against domestic violence and child abuse through the social media, stated that she spoke against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), when his alleged rape case against Busola Dakolo broke.

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